Video shows news anchor standing by live criticism of Walz response to 2020 riots

Nelson also recounted the station's repeated efforts to get a hold of Walz's office with no success.

Kare 11 news anchor Julie Nelson talks during a journalism seminar in 2020. (University of Minnesota/YouTube)

In remarks from 2020 posted recently to social media, KARE 11 evening news anchor Julie Nelson stood by her on-air criticism of the flat-footed response to that summer’s riots following the death of George Floyd.

Nelson’s comments were part of a virtual seminar, Unrest: The Challenges of Live Coverage, hosted in June 2020 by the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

During KARE’s live coverage of the riots on the evening of May 28, 2020, Nelson called the lack of official word from Gov. Tim Walz and the Twin Cities mayors and police chiefs “inexcusable.”

“Someone needs to tell us what is going on and what the plan is,” she said during the live broadcast. “We have reached out to the governor, to the mayor of St. Paul, to the mayor of Minneapolis. Both police chiefs. We are getting no response.”

The newscaster admitted that up until then she had never been so “editorial” and “emotional” during a live broadcast. But she told the seminar participants she thought it was important to speak up on behalf of viewers.

“I did feel it was my job to speak for viewers who were wondering the same thing I was, which was, ‘How is this happening again? We thought this was under control. Somebody please tell us what the plan is here,'” she said.

Nelson also recounted the station’s repeated efforts to get a hold of Walz’s office with no success.

“This is not to say they were not busy. I’m sure they were completely overwhelmed,” she said. “But … no one saw law enforcement anywhere, and so I just started to call out publicly, ‘Governor, please call us. Our viewers want to know what the plan is.'”

In October 2020, the Minnesota Senate released a 55-page report blaming Walz’s “slow decision making,” specifically his hesitation in activating the National Guard, for the state’s failure to contain the unrest.

The riots were estimated to have caused $500 million in property damage throughout the Twin Cities, one of the most destructive spates of unrest in American history behind the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.

Last month a voter asked Walz at the Farmfest gathering why he would “let a police station burn to the ground and not send in the troops,” referring to the destruction of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct building by rioters in May 2020.

Video showed Walz beginning to answer the question before a staff member cut him off and redirected him elsewhere.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.